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Reading Room / Kindred: the Embraced Reviews

Tuesday, April 2, 1996

Embrace Fox Vampires at Your Own Risk


A girl vampire pouts to a boy vampire: "This is your vengeance against me, served as cold as your heart." Vampire prose, vampire chompers, vampire glowing eyes, vampire murder, vampire sex, voluptuous vampires cavorting in their underwear. If the slow, somber, anemic, pugnaciously absurd premiere of Fox's new "Kindred: The Embraced" were a theatrical movie instead of a series, you wouldn't walk out. You'd run.

Be patient, though, for a future episode made available for preview indicates that this contemporary tale about humans turned bloodsuckers (known as Kindred) benefits from a creative transfusion, improving dramatically after its 90-minute opener that introduces Mark Frankel as Julian Luna, a Godfather-like prince of five vampire clans, and C. Thomas Howell as Frank Kohanek, the San Francisco police detective who thinks Luna is an ordinary mobster.

Kohanek doesn't know that the sexy dish (Kate Vernon) he's sleeping with is Luna's old flame and a formidable vampire herself. But like Luna, she's a good vampire, in contrast to the bad vampires, led by Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson), who challenge his leadership. Meanwhile, the Kindred do lots of sluggish moping, blood is liberally sucked (vampires apparently being immune to the AIDS virus) and the show's Mafia metaphor ends up sleeping with the fishes.

Even without zee usual Transylvania accents and black capes, all of this is quite dopey, with Howell's obtuse Kohanek being such a thick lug, stifling nearly every scene he's in, that you wouldn't mind driving a stake through his heart.

Fortunately, his camera time is cut drastically in that future episode, a sort of "West Side Story" meets "The Godfather" that dwells on Luna and juxtaposes tender romance, a child-in-jeopardy subplot and a potential clan rumble in fascinating, twisting ways that create poignancy and interest. Pretty good stuff.

Which episode is most representative of the real "Kindred" remains to be seen. Play it safe, in any case, and wear your garlic necklace.

* "Kindred: The Embraced" premieres at 8 tonight on Fox (Channel 11).

Copyright (c) 1996  Times Mirror Company

Kindred: the Embraced Video Set

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